Sunday, September 30, 2012

Downtime, in photos

I may be on a break from formal training but there is still a lot going on.  It's easier to show it with photos than write about it though.

I've been doing quite a bit of trail running.  It's relaxing and I see wildlife and I work on one of my big weaknesses, running steep hills!

I've enjoyed going out to ride with no firm agenda, just fun, and have been tackling a lot of hills there too.

Today my friend Sara and I did the Muddy Buddy run together.  We tried to make the most out of it and have a good time instead of worry about speeding through.  Other than the rocks that cut up my knees in the mud pit, it was a lot of fun!

In my "spare" time (haha), I'm taking a couple of classes (exercise physiology and nutrition for sports) through the local community college and getting straight As so far!

How is your off-season going?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oops, I Did It Again

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Meredith started asking me questions about a little local race that was put on this past weekend.  I've been quasi-"coaching" Meredith as she has dipped her toes into the running and then multisport worlds.  Anyway, one thing led to another, we both said said do the race if the other one did and that's how I ended up signed up.  For Meredith, it would be her first triathlon (skip to her race report if you want to see how it went).  For me, it would be a chance to have a little fun with no pressure on the dregs of Ironman fitness.

There's only so much I can say about a sprint tri, so I'll do it quickly.  And with pictures.  Everybody likes pictures.

It's always better to race with friends!  With Mary Sue and Meredith.

I've been using this giant tub of Aquaphor for training and racing for like 2 years now.  It's awesome.

Eventually we put our wetsuits on and headed down to the lake.  Right after this photo, the first wave jumped in the water so we got in to warm up.

After about 5 minutes in the water, we realized they hadn't started the first wave yet.  30 minutes later, they announced there was a delay due to bike course issues.  45 minutes after that (over an hour after our original wave start time), we finally started the race.  A bit of the excitement - and all of the warmup - was gone at that point.

Swim - a 400 yard swim that was in reality 550-600 yards.  I swam hard, I stayed in the mix with a lot of other women, I got out.  10:19, including the run up the beach and all the way to transition.

T1 - felt like it took forever but I was in and out in 52 seconds.  Fastest in my AG.

Bike - either 9 miles (officially) or 8.5 (my Garmin).  In either case, a big victory for me as for the first time ever in a race, I averaged over 20 mph for the entire ride. And also higher than my threshold power by several watts, so maybe someone has improved since the last bike test!  25:29.

T2 - 35 seconds, 2nd fastest in AG (only because the girl who was faster set up her transition against a tree, after they told us we HAD to be on a rack and couldn't set up there.  I guess showing up late pays off).

Run - 3 miles, and this is the part where I D-I-E-D.  My legs made sure to point out that I had just run an Ironman marathon 4 weeks ago and they had zero speed training on them.  So I ambled up and down the hills as best I could and made it to the finish.  24:18.

In the end, this race served as a nice baseline for all the improvements I plan to make next year racing sprints with some actual speedwork under my belt!  It was also good enough for 7th/90 in my age group and 24th/438 overall (apparently my AG was stocked with a lot of the fast women!).  So guess who's qualified for USAT age group nationals for next year?!*

*yes, it was a USAT sanctioned race, I've checked like a dozen times to be sure!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Agile Dogs

With the triathlon season basically over, I've been swimming, biking and running a bit but I've turned more of my attention to my other hobby, the one that's taken a bit of a backseat the past couple years, dog agility.

When I first began agility with Max, we went to class every week and when once we started competing seriously, we trialed 2-4 weekends a month.  It's a lot of time spent to go sit all day at a trial all weekend waiting for your 2-3 turns to run (for 30-70 seconds).  But the only way to get good at competing and to finish agility titles is to trial a lot.  Your dog doesn't necessarily translate all of their training directly into a trial venue, where you don't get practice runs on the course, so you have to repeat it enough for them to understand the same behavior applies and is expected in new and different places.  Max was a dream of an agility dog, finishing his agility championship (many many weekends of trialing went into that!), qualifying several times for the Cynosport World Games (and going once, back when it was relatively close), and always making beardies look good.

Poor Stanley has had the misfortune to come along after his mom got sucked into this whole triathlon thing. So while he's gone to class weekly for years, his trialing experience is extremely inconsistent and mostly limited to winters in between my Ironmans.  I hope to be better about that this next year as I race short course and theoretically won't need all day to train on weekends.  So, we've been back to trialing again - Stanley and I were out there this weekend for his 2nd trial in 8 months (the first being 2 weeks ago).  We improved a bit over Labor Day weekend, so that's a plus.  It's just going to take time.

Since a FB triathlon friend commented that it was interesting to hear about this stuff, I thought I'd post a few videos just to show the progression in training and competing.  Note that he would have progressed a lot faster if I trialed more often than every winter :)

Here is one of Stanley's beginner agility classes, where he was just learning how to jump and do jumps in sequence.  Baby boy brain!!!

Here he was still a baby but I entered him in the jumpers class at our National, just for the experience.  I think he'd only learned the weave poles a few weeks beforehand and was clearly too distracted to really know what I wanted at a trial.

A few months later, this was his first USDAA jumpers run.  No weave poles on this course so all he had to do was get around the jumps and tunnels and try to stay with me with all the distractions in a cold horse barn in December.

And then you go home and practice everything some more.

And then you do an Ironman. And another race season. And then throw your dog into another trial and hope for the best. (Note: this is not the recommended route for successful obstacle performance in a trial).  But he's getting better...

And then I went and did another Ironman (AZ 2011). When we last trialed early in 2012, this is where we stood.  Not perfect but getting better.

So it's going to take a while to get it all back.  Our Labor Day trial started out with disastrous runs on the first day and by the 3rd day things had improved.  Stanley now competes at the Excellent level in both Standard and Jumpers courses, which means we must be perfect for our run to count.  No hesitations, no incorrect performance of an obstacle (like messing up the weave poles), no missing the yellow zone on one of the contact obstacles, no taking an obstacle out of sequence, etc.  I'm pleased to say that yesterday, Stan got all of his contacts (including 3 a-frames), got 2 of his weave pole entrances correct (the dog has to enter the poles with their left shoulder), and stayed on course.  We ARE getting there, we just need to be competing more consistently.  With time and practice, it will come together (sounds just like triathlon now, doesn't it?).

What am I looking for in the long run? Something like what Max and I had in his prime, though I know it's going to be a lot faster at Stanley speed!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Favorite Things, 2012

I'm long overdue for a favorite things post and this seems as good a time as any to list all the stuff that got me where I needed to go in training and racing this year.

The Swim
Googles: Sable Optics.  I love these tinted goggles.  I really love that they don't get all fogged up on me when racing!
Swimsuits: Splish.  Cutest suits around and I need that motivation to swim.  Especially love my Betty Designs bikini.
Wetsuit: Blueseventy Axis.  When I bought this last year, I finally learned how wetsuits are supposed to fit and how hard they are to put on.  It's so good, I had it repaired after I tore a huge gash in it.  My only way-off-PR swim of the year (SVLC) was the awful suit I bought to use while this one was being repaired.

The Bike
Frame: Specialized Transition Pro
Power meter: Quarq SRAM S975.  Bought this thing in July and LOVE it. In particular the compact crank with all the hills I've been riding!
Training Helmet: Specialized
Racing Helmet: Rudy Project Wingspan.  The only aero helmet I've ever tried and I frequently have to double check that I'm wearing one during a race because it's so light!
Shoes: Specialized Trivent Expert.  Unfortunately, due to IMC, they smell like it does underneath a San Francisco overpass right now.
Nutrition: Clif Shot Blocks. I took one block every 10 minutes for all of my long rides and in races.  There are enough flavors to mix it up and keep it interesting so I never got sick of them.  My dentist might hate them though!
Sports Drink: Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix. Using this stuff all year I experienced none of the bloating and upset stomach I've had in past years on the bike. I only wish I could have used it through all of the IMC bike course instead of just until I ran out!
Salt Tabs: Salt Stick caps
Race wheels:  Gabe hooked us up with fabulous wheels through a local tri shop and I loved them!

The Run
Training Shoes: Asics GT-2170.  My standard training shoes for a number of years now.  Why mess with what works?
Racing Shoes: Asics DS Racer.  I raced in these for the first time this year.  Super light!
Training Nutrition: Gu Gels in jet blackberry.  Repeat to self over and over, it's the jelly from a jelly donut.
Racing Nutrition: Gu Roctane Gels in blueberry pomegranate.  Repeat to self over and over, at least it's not that bloody jet blackberry again!
Salt Tabs: Salt Stick caps

Drink: Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk.  Because boxed chocolate milk can sit in my car all day and still be OK. *tries not to think too hard about what that means about the "milk"*
Compression Socks:  How can you beat all the cute colors?
Compression Tights: Zoot Active CompressRx tights. They squeeze me in all the right places.

Training Supplement: Extreme Endurance.  EE went a long way to keeping me from being super sore.
Joint Supplement: Extreme Joint 4. I don't like creaky cranky joints.
Vitamin: Extreme Immune Boost. I didn't get sick once this year, that has to count for something.
Food: Lots and lots of real unprocessed food, mostly from Whole Foods, mostly gluten free all year.
Pre and post workout snack: Picky Bars. I joined the Picky Club this year and I love it.  These bars are awesome!

Personal Care
Chafing Prevention: Aquaphor. Copious amounts of Aquaphor on every chafeable body part kept me free of irritation though many miles of training and racing!
Saddle Sore Prevention: Exfoliate! I also highly recommend use of salicylic acid wipes (like Clearasil Pads).

Coaching: Multisport Mastery. My coach is the bomb. 2 weeks of post-Ironman solo recovery and I miss her already.
Training Log and Data Analysis: TrainingPeaks.  When I started out running and then doing triathlon, I tried all sorts of training logs. Nothing - and I mean NOTHING - beats TrainingPeaks for the best designed, most easily accessible site for logging, tracking and analyzing your training.  Don't miss out, use discount code TPA14 for 15% off a premium account!

On the bike trainer this year, I watched - 3 seasons of Justified, 3.5 seasons of The Big Bang Theory, 2 seasons of The Walking Dead, 1 season of American Horror Story, 0.5 season of Sanctuary, and 2 episodes of Breaking Bad.  Add in all the Facebook, Twitter, and Words with Friends time and I'd say my iPhone is the best thing I ever bought, hands down.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Final Thoughts on IMC

  • What a difference a boatload of swim technique work can make.  I'm still not where I want to be but all the yards in the world were not making a difference for me without focused, conscious change.  Every week with Tim we worked on me learning the feel for a certain bit of the stroke so that I could identify when I was doing it wrong and fix it.
  • I keep reading from all the fast people that the swim course measured long.  You mean, I could have been even faster? Squeee!
  • I'm quite pleased with my bike nutrition this time around (I'll do a separate post on everything I used for training/racing this year).  I stuck to my plan and had no problem continuing to eat the stuff I'd trained with all year.  I think it helped that I varied the flavors and that I really avoided using it during taper except for long rides, so I was almost craving it by race day.
  • I'm SO happy we did some huge climbing days in training, even when at the time I was sure everyone hated me or this was overkill. I'm quite certain it made a huge difference on race day, because I was spinning pretty comfortably up Richter while people around me seemed to be putting a lot more effort into getting to the top and Yellow Lake didn't crush me even that late in the day.  Compared to how I felt on some of our practice rides, I ended the IMC bike feeling fairly fresh in the legs.  The same goes for all our rough days in headwind and heat...they all made race day seem easier.  To think that I did this course even a minute faster than I did AZ...well, that's a whole lot of solid bike strength I built up this summer!
  • This was the first IM run I've done sockless and the first one where I haven't blistered!  Sure I had some sore spots on my toes but rubbing a ton of Aquaphor into my feet in T2 worked perfectly.
  • I may have confused people a little in my race report about "retiring" from Ironman.  Some people can do IM every year back-to-back and some people do multiples in a year!  For me, this was an interesting challenge doing IMC just 9 months after IM AZ and really I signed up to do it with my brother, my closest training partner and many friends.  But I really like to vary up the distance to avoid stagnating and I think I'm still in the midst of my development as a triathlete.  So to focus more on speed - and do what quite frankly seems a whole lot more painful (sprints HURT) - I knew early on this year that I'd be spending the next couple years racing short course.  The good news is I think that means I can race a whole lot more often!  I've got a very long list of potential events for next year and will need to narrow it down with the ELF sometime this fall.
  • I've been pretty good about active recovery since race day...a little swimming, a little biking, my first easy run.  What I've been doing far more of since we got back to CA though is yoga.  I met a friend for 6am bikram on Tuesday (which just reminded me there is nothing fun about standing in a hot room trying not to pass out), I tried Yoga Therapy (with triggerpoint balls and all, it was like deep tissue massage), and I went to Gentle class today (and promptly fell asleep during shavasana).  If I can't use all the workout clothes overflowing out of my dresser, I might as well use a lot of the Lululemon I've got!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Iron Aftermath

In the days following the race, the focus was very much on all things NOT triathlon.

We took the dogs down to Okanagan Lake for a swim (I figured this would be a good chance to ice my legs too).  photos by Yvonne Mulcaster

My old man Max loves his role as fun police

Oh Puck...

Stanley's best Ogopogo imitation

A couple days post-race, we started our drive home, first with a ~5 hour trip to Vancouver.

It rained as we left Okanagan Lake

Once in Vancouver, we stayed at a fabulous dog-friendly hotel on Granville Island.  The boys appreciated their welcome cookies.  Once they were allowed to eat them, that is.

Not a bad view from our balcony

You humans sure work a lot.

Scenes around the island at dawn

While Jeff was doing some business meetings, the boys and I met up with Deirdre for a little hike!

And then finally, we headed for home, driving all night to make it back to California by late morning.  2 days of work and then we got to enjoy the holiday weekend.  It wasn't all relaxing though, since Stanley and I spent all 3 days at an agility trial about 100 miles away.

Clean and ready to go

Surprise visit with his litter sister McKenzie!

After roughly 8 months of not trialing, Stan finished his Open Standard title with a first place!

Reward: ice cream!

Oh and I might have had a drink or two in there...

Unfortunately all this "eat all the things" must come to an end...time to stop eating like an asshole and get back to kale salad.  It may be the off-season but I don't need to gain 10 pounds either.  I've got 2 months off from coaching and I plan to stay as active as I can and try some new things along the way before we get back to work on November 1st!